After what seemed like, truly, a winter
from the past, springlike conditions prevailed for our Feb. 28th fly-in
to Johnstown, N.Y. This is a busy, popular GA airport between Utica &
Albany by the Mohawk River. In all my years of flying, I had never been
to this place. Steve Sevits had suggested this location. It had recently
opened the Airport Diner on the field. Past eateries here had a here today;
gone tomorrow history. Lucky for us, the diner was open and had room for
our small, but happy crowd.
The day was good VFR. I hadn't flown my Tri-Pacer
since our Dec. Fly-in due to thew lousy weather we've been having. The
pre-heater was plugged in overnight and it started right up. Enroute,
I encountered a stiff headwind and was doing a screaming 70 kts over the
ground! The flight was relatively smooth until near the mighty Catskills.
Then it was time for rock & rolling. I did not care. You could see
forever and I figured the 70 kt groundspeed would be a real shotgun going
home! I was very impressed by the performance of the plane! To quote my
old partner, it climbed like a "raped ape"! This is a very high
time 0-320 that saw TBO a long, long time ago (long time).
Before I left the house, I checked the log books,
because I had a suspicion that the annual was due soon. I was right. It
expired in 24 hours!! I had the luxury of one day to get ot over to my
mechanic, MacVicar, in Middletown, N.Y. Whew!!!
On arrival to Johnstown, there was a steady flow
of planes coming and going from runway 28 with the wind right down the
runway at about 20 kts or so. I checked the GPS on short final. I was
crawling and needed power to get to the first turnoff. The temperature
was a good 15 degrees colder up here than down in the NYC area and there
was still plenty of snow on the ground. Parking was a bit tight due to
the snow and ice on the ramp.
The Airport Diner is on the field. It's a pleasant,
no-frills "airport café" with Depression Era prices. The food
is good and breakfast is served all day. We didn't exactly have a mob
descend on this place. Thjat's good, because it can't handle mobs, but
it did handle us. Us consisted of: Andy seligson in the Tri-Pacer and
Fred DeFillipis in his C-172 from HPN, Mike & Margaret Archambault
in their Tri-Pacer from Kline Kill, N.Y., Rico Cannone & Wes Morris
in Rico's Tri-Pacer from Heber Airpark, Nick Frisz in his Vagabond on
skis from a strip on the Hudson River below Glens Falls, and Steve Sevits
There was plenty of snow for Nick to land on
and the Vagabond made a pretty picture parked by the windsock. Where was
Mike Hirsch? We had a good time shooting the breeze and catching up with
each other. The food was good and we recommend the place. Some folks stopped
by and we hopefully recruited some new members. Nick got us up to speed
on the improvements and new owners of the Cooperstown, N.Y. airport and
we're going there soon.
Speaking of soon, we might be on a roll again
so check your calendars. The March fly-in/mtg. is scheduled for Sat. the
27th with Sun the 28th the rain date. We had said Sky Acres but the restaurant
was sold and it's uncertain as to what the status will be. Instead, we'll
try the new CAVU Restaurant on the field at Kobelt Airport (N45) in Walkill,
N.Y. north of Stewart and west of POU. If this place is a quarter of what
it was under the first two owners, it will be a winner. The reports are
good. We'll meet at noon. CTAF is 122.8 & there's no fuel on the field
that anyone knows about. Be careful where you park because the ground
could be soft.
Sat. April 17th will take us (hopefully) to the
restaurant on the field at Keene, New Hampshire. I'll check this out and
I think Wes Morris is also checking on it. If the field doesn't have a
restaurant, we'll go somewhere else (maybe Jaffrey N.H.) Sat. May 15th
will take us to the Cooperstown, N.Y. airport for their 1st of the season
fly-in breakfasts. Check the phone line & website for details &
While the newsletter banner doesn't list a secretary
(anyone interested?) we now have a membership chairperson. Rico Cannone
is taking on this task. We can all help him by referring any interested
party considering joining us to speak to him via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 518-879-9124. I'm sure that we all know someone who is interested
in flying, owns, rents, wants to fly (doesn't have to be a Short Wing
Piper) and is looking for a group of folk like us that tries to have a
fly-in/mtg/meaningful event on a monthly basis, weather permitting. The
dues are a whopping $15 a year. Good luck Rico. If anyone is a good ambassador
for our group - you are!
Steve Marsh, from the national SWPC, contacted
me about a project
they are undertaking. They want a picture of all the Short Wing Pipers
owned by members. This shouldn't be a big deal. I'm sure all of us that
own a Short Wing Piper have a photo that we could forward to the national
club. I'll keep you posted as to the particulars of thie endeavor.
All too soon, it was time to make the trip south.
I took off into the ever increasing wind down the runway and skyrocketed
up to 3500' for the trip home. Yes the groundspeed was tripple digits.
I stopped at POU for fuel which is cheaper than at HPN (any place is cheaper
than HPN!) and the wind had died down considerably.
The next morning, I flew up to Middletown and
dropped the plane off for its annual. Fred DeFillipis met me there and
flew me home. On Tuesday, as I was running out of the house to play the
show, MacVicar called. Does the word Mattituck ring a bell? Yes folks,
the time has come for good old N8500D to deal with a major! I'd been putting
this off for years (at least 4) and the time has come. Such is life in
aviation. Gloria wanted to know how much$ ? I told her I knew. She wanted
to hear it from the horse's mouth. I heard her ask Mac - "hundred?
Oh thousand. Oh." Yep. Well we did the airframe & now it will
be just like new - yeah. I'll keep you posted. It takes about 4 weeks
& I'm putting in new cylinders.
There are 3 more dates/events to put on your
calendars. June 12th we will got to Kline Kill, N.Y. for their fly-in
breakfast and join in with the fun of this great grass strip that the
Archambaults base their Tri-Pacer at. June 14-19 is the Sentimental Journey
at Lock Haven, Pa. They're honoring the PA-22 & we'll plan on Sat.
the 19th as a group event. This is a great fly-in and camping/lodging
is recommended if you're staying overnight.
The third event that some of us might be interested
in is the SWPC annual Convention, being held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
from June 21-24. This is a great area to visit and all the SWPC conventions
are well worth the trip. Ask any of us who have gone. Unfortunately, work
will definitely prevent us from going this year.
I'll sign off here and hope that I get to see
some of you at the CAVU restaurant at the Kobelt Airport in Wallkill,
N.Y. on Sat. March 27th. One of our members has been trying to find the
time to get an article together for us and has finally done so. The following
is his effort. Thank you Fabio.
By Fabio Schulthess
"Why a Piper Pacer"? asked the two
pilots over breakfast at Heidi's Dinersoar at the Warren-Sugarbush airport
on a Sunday morning. Well, I just like the looks of the taildragger Pacer
and the value you get for the money. It is a true 4 seat airplane that
you can get for less than $30,000.The Lycoming 0-320 is one of the most
dependable, popular engines with easily available spare parts.
I have searched the web and subscribed to Trade-A-Plane
for more than a year. I joined the SWPC. I even test flew a Clipper(precursor
of the Pacer) which was for sale down in Florida where I was during a
4 day layover on one of my long haul trips as a 767 captain. That test
flight really emphasized my decision for thr high wing aircraft. The handling
quality impressed me, although the owner did not let me land his plane.
Back to the above mentioned breakfast. One
pilot, Frank Rodgers, mentioned that a Pacer was for sale right on the
field! I couldn't believe it!
Warren-Sugarbush airport was going to be my home base in thefuture. I
was planning to build a vacation home on my 3 acre property right on the
airport! We walked to one of the hangars at the south end of the field.
Frank, who owns a new C-182, opened the hangar door and there she was.
AA cream puff Piper Pacer! I was truly overwhelmed at the sight of this
extremely well maintained aircraft and immediately thought "this
is it". Frank told me that a Joe Koch owned the plane. Joe was going
to take a rest from flying due to a hip replacement.
He called Joe on my cell phone and left a message
on his answering machine. A couple of days later Joe returned from a trip
and we met at his hangar. We agreed on a deal after only ten minutes and
I gave him a deposit of $100. Later I had a mechanic inspect the plane
and got a report that read as if the plane had won a prize and the jury
was giving the reason for it. When I came back with the balance, we did
take her for a taxi-test. Since the plane did not have insurance, we didn't
want to risk flying it. So I just played pilot and had to be satisfied
to start the engine and taxi her around. Now I was a proud arcraft owner!
Since the airport closes during the winter, I
had to wait until spring to take her up for the first time. I used the
winter months to get insurance and familiarize myself with the checklist
Joe gave me. As the winter went by, me flying 757s & 767s for my European
airline, I anxiously awaited the snow melt so I could finally go and fly
my Pacer. I had the insurance started for flight status on April 15th.
The insurance company wanted me to have at least 1 hourof dual before
they would let me loose. I already had about 1000 hors of taildraggerr
time in Super Cubs and J3s, so this seemed reasonable.
I finally met my instructor, Rick Hanson, a local
expert on tailwheel planes and a full time glider instructor at Sugarbush,
the end of April. There was still snow on the grass in front of the hangars,
but I really wanted to fly now. We had to remove snow from inside the
wheel pants once we got to the paved runway (which had no snow on it due
to the heat absorbing from the sunshine).
When I did my first takeoff, I almost ran off
the 30' wide runway! What a nervous plane!! I had to revert to feet flying!!!
(welcome to the world of taildraggers) We climbed away and then I discovered
how well she handled in the air. Rick had me fly over to Montpelier, Vt.,
which has 2 long & wide runways. We were going to practice my first
touch and gos there. My first landing was something which would get quite
a few comments from bystanding pilots, but then some got better - some
worse. For a moment I wanted to sell the plane. I have never, in my 15,000
hours of flying, flown such a tricky airplane. I mean tricky ground handling.
It really seemed like a handful of airplane to keep straight on the runway.
What ever happened to my 1000 hours of tailwheel time? I thought I had
lost that skill totally! With Rick's skill, I finally performed good enough
to be checked out.
I did my first solo flight and ever since, I
am madly in love with my airplane. I also have a great respect for its
ground handling characteristics. I then went over to Basin Harbor on Lake
Champlain a dozen times to practice my landings & takeoffs until I
really felt comfortable.
Up until now I have flown about 60 hours in my
Pacer and would never in my life trade it for something else. I have flown
to Pennsylvania (Sentimental Journey) and one of the more memorable trips
was a flight over to Rockland, Maine for a nice lobster lunch at the Shores
of the Atlantic Ocean, which I usually cross at 35,000 feet. Now iam looking
forward every season to go flying and join the fly-ins of the Northeast
Chapter of the SWPC.
( Thanks Fabio. You are a great asset to the club and chapter. Just
imagine - this guy comes from Switzerland to make these fly-ins!)